By 2020, 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic will come from video.

That’s still several years away, you might think.

Well, no, actually.

Roughly 96 percent – and rising – of online viewers already state video helps them make purchasing decisions.

We could roll out a red carpet of more statistics for you, but the trendlines are clear: You need videos to win new business.

Enter: product demos.

We spoke with Brafton Senior Creative Director Perry Leenhouts about the nuances of successful product demos and how brands can turn their video efforts into tangible rewards.

Step 1: What do you want to show?

“The great advantage of video, specifically product demos, is that you can convey complex concepts in a visual, digestible format,” Perry said. “If you try to explain a product or service using words alone, you’re asking too much of the reader.”

With this wisdom in mind, it’s important to set your sights on what you’re hoping to accomplish by showing off a given product. In most cases this means identifying a few aspects of your product that stand apart from competitors. For physical items like an office chair or a trampoline, you’d want to highlight:

  • Materials used.
  • Safety and user-friendliness.
  • Comfort or enjoyment derived from use.
  • Innovations in design.

For software or more intangible services, better demo differentiators include:

  • Compatibility with existing or custom platforms.
  • Functionality across multiple users and devices.
  • Security capabilities and commitments.
  • Ease of use and efficiency earnings.

Define what needs to be shown, and showcase these benefits in a way that tracks with customer pain points and needs.

If you’re creating a video strictly to talk up your own products, you’ve missed a key opportunity to reach customers on their terms – ensure each product video is customized to the needs of individual prospects.

Step 2: What does your audience want to know?

Depending on who may be requesting a sales demo, and what industry they operate in, your product video should be adjusted accordingly:

One-size-fits-all is never your friend.

More than anything, online viewers don’t click on videos simply to hear you proselytize your brand (I got bored just writing that sentence); they want solutions to their problems.

To deliver ROI on your product demos you need to dissect your buyer personas and understand their intent. You also need to keep in mind how demos can be leveraged as sales enablement assets by your inbound and outbound teams.

For example, take a look at how different each of these prospects is, even though they may appear to be in the same stage of the sales funnel according to your nurture campaigns and standardized customer acquisition processes:

  • Looking for a solution with minimal budget.
  • Looking for more info on a product they’re somewhat familiar with.
  • Looking for a solution that’s better than a competing model.
  • Looking for a catch-all solution with add-ons, and have the budget to pay top dollar.
  • Looking for something to show their boss.
  • Looking for help augmenting daily processes but without a long-term contract.

In essence, and within your video production capabilities, it makes sense to hyper-target these specific subsets of leads. Blasting out a general video means you’re blowing right by a large percentage of your prospects.

Step 3: How do you reach your audience effectively?

Once you know who you should be targeting, it’s time to capitalize on your creative resources.

“At this stage, you have to rely on the direction of creatives and how they envision everything playing out on the screen,” Perry said.

For starters, some viewers prefer different types of videos than others, and sometimes it simply comes down to generational tastes.

“Younger audiences are more susceptible to lifestyle videos, whereas older viewers typically prefer a more formal presentation of the facts,” Perry said.

If you’re demoing an office chair, here’s how that could play out visually:

  • Younger: A trendy jacket laying over the back of the office chair, with a fun, colorful work environment in the background.
  • Older: A rotating office chair in a professional setting near a computer, with a focus on ergonomic benefits.

3-D visual elements are also becoming more common, as are 360-degree feature videos that allow viewers to experience a product in a more interactive way.

Other key points to keep in mind to ensure you’re effectively reaching your audience are:

  • B2B products (like software) tend to have slower sales cycles, and demos are intended to be more educational. You can even create a single teaser video that then leads to a longer demo or other gated assets that dive much more deeply into the full range of product features.
  • B2C products are mostly merchandise-based, and demos are intended to nurture purchases – in many cases, a video is supposed to close the deal on a sale. B2C demos can be utilized for mass impact on social media as well, as consumers who use social media are four times more likely to spend more upon checkout.

Perry advised brands to keep their product demos to 30 seconds in length – 60 seconds in cases of abstract or elaborate products. Remember, attention spans are shrinking and viewers’ time is at a premium.

Bonus: Quick demo dos and don’ts

The internet is, and will continue to be, littered with bad demos that miss the mark. Don’t add to the garbage pile.

Do:

  • Cut to the chase. Perry advised featuring your product right away – if five seconds have passed and your product isn’t front and center, you’ve already lost.
  • Show the result of the product. Selling laundry detergent? Focus on clean sheets and a fresh smell, not just green soap pouring out of a bottle.
  • Know your format. Animations are best for abstract concepts or software-based services. Live shots are more promotional and used for physical merchandise.

Don’t:

  • Squeeze in a convoluted narrative. We don’t have time.
  • Focus purely on the product alone. The point is to map the product’s specs to the pain points of viewers.
  • Forget the end game. You need to generate revenue for your company, and a demo is best-served in the hands of your sales team and on your core landing pages.

One Brafton client leveraged new and existing demos to generate a 249 percent higher conversion rate (than non-video conversions) in the first three months of video publication.

How can you replicate this success?

One targeted demo at a time, that’s how.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.